Ok, I know the A to Z challenge is over and I failed. But I am determined to see this through…so on to W.
Llamas are excellent guard animals. They are used to guard other ungulates, such as sheep, goats cows and alpacas, as well as our feathered poultry friends. That’s the reason I got one in the first place. Then I got a second to keep the first company. 🙂
Although they are normally quiet, don’t get one riled up. And they will get riled up if they see predators like coyotes, dogs and foxes skulking around.
So far we’ve talked a little about alpacas and guanacos and a lot about llamas. But there is another member of this family worth mentioning: vicuñas.
While guanacos are believed to be the wild ancestors of llamas, alpacas are most likely descended from vicuñas.
Similar to the comparison between alpacas and llamas, vicuñas are smaller and more graceful than their guanaco cousins. At the shoulder they only stand about 3 feet high and they are on average, 150 pounds. But like the guanacos, they only come in one color variety. Their backs have long tawny brown hair while the throat and chest have even longer white hair. Vicuña ears are longer than guanacos, but certainly not as long as the llamas.
Vicuña fiber is a prized possession. In recognition of this, the vicuña is the national animal of Peru standing proudly in the Peruvian coat of arms. In fact, the Incas (who bred out llamas and alpacas from their wild ancestors) only allowed royalty to wear garments made from vicuñas. The fiber is the finest among all of the cousins, producing an extremely soft and luxurious but warm product. It is also the most expensive! A vicuña scarf can cost $1,500. Vicuñas can only be shorn once every three years and they are wild; they are rounded up every year and any with fur longer than 2.5 cm are shorn.
Similar to the guanaco, conservation efforts are needed to protect the vicuña. In 1974, their population dwindled to about 6,000 animals. Luckily, the population has rebounded to about 350,000.
Blogging my way from A to Z as part of the 2016 April A to Z Challenge! My theme for this year: Llama mama. V for Vicuña
Photo courtesy of Thomas Quine.
My U post yesterday was interrupted by our first kidding! Our first of four pregnant females gave birth and she had quadruplets! Wow! It was amazing and the human kids got to see most of it. I have to kind of hope though that the rest of the females aren’t as prolific. Otherwise I am going to be swimming in goats.
This great event and the rest of the animals on our farm make me say, Hooray for Ungulates!
Ungulates – hoofed beasts
Ungulate typically refers to any animal that has a hoof. Although it refers to a wide range of animals, many of these animals have similar characteristics. For example, many of these great animals are ruminants, animals that possess multiple stomachs containing bacteria that help them break down the vegetable matter they eat. A good portion of them also have very long legs making them able to move quickly.
Two types of ungulates
The hoof can either be even-toed or odd-toed. Llamas are even-toed, having two toes per foot. Goats, deer, hippopotamuses and cattle all are even-toed. Donkeys, horses and rhinoceroses, on the other hand, are odd-toed ungulates.
Needless to say, I checked the kids’ feet and they are perfect even-toed ungulates!
Blogging my way from A to Z as part of the 2016 April A to Z Challenge! My theme for this year: Llama mama. U for Ungulate.
Photo courtesy of jenn.
If you look in a llama’s mouth, you’ll find an unusual arrangement of teeth. Llamas have no front upper teeth. Instead you’ll just see gums (called a dental pad) behind that split upper lip. As they leave their cria days behind them, adult llamas also get additional permanent teeth. At about 2-3 years of age in males and 4-5 years of age in females, they will get their fighting teeth (also called fangs). Continue reading
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘I’m so angry I could spit!’ ? I bet a llama owner said it first. In fact, there’s not a lot on Google about where the idiom came from, so I’ll go with my llama theory.
Llama’s seem to be notorious for spitting; it’s usually the first question I get when I tell people that I have llamas. “But don’t they spit?” Mal-tempered, misunderstood, badly handled, pushed-past-their-llimits llamas at zoos are probably responsible for this reputation. But when handled correctly, you shouldn’t be the recipient of well-aimed llama saliva.